Weekly Photo Challenge: Work of Art

We have tons of art in the house. I like to think we also have a fair bit of truth, but if no one seems able to define truth, how in the world do you define “art?”

Is that the stuff which is just pretty but serves no “useful” purpose … or is it anything that has a certain eye-appeal, no matter what you might want to call it.

Monochrome with red dress

I collected dolls for years and antique Chinese porcelain … and for a long time, teapots and other oddities. Some people find the dolls creepy. I love them. We have paintings and photographic prints and small items that really are pretty, but currently (in this world) useless.

Is anything that makes you feel better about life not serving a useful purpose? If it makes you feel good, isn’t that enough?

I don’t know how people manage to live in houses without any art or pictures or prints. Don’t they need the color and the motion? Something to tickle their fancy?

KAMMIE’S ODDBALL CHALLENGE – Garry & Marilyn Armstrong

Kammie’s Oddball Challenge 10/4/18

Meeting on the path – Photo: Garry Armstrong

Garry likes to take pictures of signs and posters. He used to use them, when doing news pieces, as ways to “place” the story — in case he forgot where he had been.

Find your adventure? – Photo: Garry Armstrong

He didn’t do one story a day like they show on television. He often did a handful or more of stories in all different parts of Massachusetts and often, Rhode Island or New Hampshire or even Maine.

King Charles as a small dog – Photo: Garry Armstrong

And he often had stories on the network, so his work got seen in many other places and thus was recognized in some very odd locations. Like Dublin and a castle in Scotland.

Carry  out, carry in – Photo: Garry Armstrong

Those posters and road signs reminded him where he had been. Now he takes them because they are interesting and occasionally, funny.



What if you could wake up tomorrow and be able to speak a new language?  Suppose you did not have to work at it at all.  There would be no boring repetition of words and phrases.  You would not have to study rules of grammar.  You would not have to learn to conjugate.  You would not take home lessons to write out.  The language would just be there at your command.  Your speech would be fluent and your understanding clear.  What language would you choose?

My best guess is that most people would consider a language of their ancestors.  If they came from Poland, then Polish might be their first choice.  In a city like Chicago, with a large population of Polish immigrants and descendants, this would make perfect sense.  If you have a relative that speaks the language, wouldn’t you be pleased to speak to them in their own language?  Your Polish grandmother would be so proud, and you, of course, would take great joy in this.

My elementary school was largely populated by kids of Irish descendent.  The Irish priests and an Irish American Bishop, who was also pastor, of course attracted a large student body made up of blond and red-haired children.  I can not say I ever heard any Gaelic, however.  I suppose some spoke it.  Many had a brogue so thick, I could not understand them.  Still, I can not say I was interested in knowing Irish language.

For much of my life, I lived in a German American neighborhood.  My maternal grandmother spoke German and would sometimes gossip (I thought it was gossip, anyway) with other old German-speaking neighbors.  The parish we lived in after the grade school years, was largely German American.  It was started by German immigrants who built the church.  For decades there was a mass in German.  I thought it would be cool to know this language, especially years later.  I was encouraged to take Latin in high school, however.

This proved to be a big disappointment as we grew up and took part in German fests.  There was Mai Fest and Oktoberfest and Rosenmontag and more feasts then you can imagine.  We learned songs in German and sang along at dances, festivals and anywhere a band was playing.  Unfortunately, my conversation was limited to Guten Tag, Auf Wiedersehen und zwei Bier bitte!

Sprechen sie Deutsch?

Sprechen sie Deutsch?

Years later as many Hispanic groups arrived and there were many more Spanish speakers, it seemed to me that learning Spanish would make far more sense.  The old Germans I knew were dying out, my grandmother was gone and I had less occasion to speak German.

Now there is a large Spanish population from Puerto Rico, Mexico and a variety of Spanish-speaking countries.  I have neighbors from Guatemala and Colombia nearby.  There are ethnic restaurants all around and in the summer, Spanish music fills the air in our area of the city.  There are so many cultures I could learn, if I just knew this one language. It seems like a logical choice.

What is the second language of your community?  Is there even a second language?  Perhaps you are in an area where you only hear English and there is no immigrant population or descendants to pass along another language.  Even if this is so, would it not be great to learn another language and travel to countries where this language is spoken.

In recent years, the desire to automatically know German, Spanish or even Polish have given way to another.  All of the above would be interesting and certainly useful. Whether I would travel to countries where these languages were spoken, or use them right here in our local communities, I still have a different interest in a language. I would never have thought to learn it just a decade ago.  Friendship has become the determining factor, however.

A previous job of mine brought in interns from other countries, particularly France.  As a result I made a number of friends from France, and I even got to know other friends and family members of these co-workers.  It was not just that I learned some of the culture.  Yes, we went to French restaurants and talked about their local communities.  Of course, we talked French politics and sports.  Indeed I learned about the regions that were home to many of my young French colleagues.  But in the process, something important happened.

This way?

This way?

Now one of my best friends in the world is a Frenchman.  We have gone on many adventures here and in Europe.  I have visited his home and the home of his parents.  We have visited all across Alsace.  For eight years, France has been on my vacation list.  It turns out that the language I would like to know tomorrow when I wake up is French.  It is not about the neighborhood I live in, the ancestors I have, or the neighbors that have recently moved in.  It is not about my grandmother.  It is not about a particular parish.  It is not about countries I may someday visit.

The language I would like to know is all about my friends.  In fact, it is about one of my best friends, and it does not matter that he is fluent in English.  Some of my closest friends are French and I wish I could more fully participate in our adventures whenever we meet.  Is there a better reason than friendship to know another language?

DAILY TOPIC SUBJECT – MUSIC! – Marilyn Armstrong

Daily Topic Subject – The Beauty of Great Music

There was a time in my life when I was “all music all the time.” I completed a music major in college (piano) with a minor in “what am I really going to be when I grow up?” I knew I wasn’t a good enough pianist to perform professionally, added to which I have stage fright so bad I get petrified. I can talk on a stage — even with a camera running — but not perform. Especially, not play the piano. My teacher had to pretend to make tea so I would perform for her.

If my minimal talent was barely sufficient, my stage fright was paralytic … but she was warmly encouraging. She felt I had talent. I don’t think she really understood that my hands are really small and I had a terrible time with ‘big hand’ music … I think she kept expecting me to grow. I started taking lessons when I was 4, so I suppose she never got used to my having actually grown up.

If she didn’t turn me into a professional musician, she did teach me to love music. So I read music, though I can’t play anymore so it’s a moot point.

And I can always tell if someone is off-key. Including me.

Q1] How important is music in your life?

Moderately, but I don’t like music playing all the time. If music is on, I want to actually listen to it. I don’t like it as background noise.

Q2] What is most and least favorite types of music?

Most favorite is classical except when it’s bluegrass, country, or 1960s rock. Yeah, I know. Call me eclectic.

Least would be either hip-hop or rap. Rap may be art, but it isn’t music. Hip-hop to me is just noise.

Q3] Do you own a music collection or do you simply listen to whatever on whatever?

We own CDs. Like, a lot of them. I just got a new CD player since when we got a newer car, we lost the CD player too.

Q4] Are you a singer, a hummer or a whistler?

I used to sing. Broke my voice many years ago. I hum quietly and can’t whistle.

PQ5] Show through links your five best songs?

I really can’t do that. Music for me is entirely changeable, literally minute by minute. I  DO like everything. Well, up through the late 1970s. After that, it got weird.

Q6] Have you ever been to an outdoor concert?

Yes. My two favorites were”Men At Work” and Ray Charles in the natural arena below the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City.

PQ7] Do you ever go out to listen to music live? When was the last time you went to a concert/gig?

We used to. Not recently, though. Last time was the 2015 Boston Pops Christmas Concert.

Q8] Do you sometimes feel like dancing when you hear music? Under what circumstances do you dance?

Yes, but I don’t. I can’t. I really can’t.

Q9] When do you listen to music?

In the morning while I try to sort out the morass of email in my inbox.

Q10] If you answered yes to Questions 6 & 7 – who did you go and see?

Men At Work, Ray Charles, and The Boston Pops (Christmas Concert)

Q11] Is there a song that makes you emotional?

All songs make me emotional. That’s why I don’t listen to it all the time.

PQ12] Do you feel that you have a special connection with some types of music? Which types?

Piano music that I used to play. I still see the notes in my head.

Another one I like playing

Q13]  Have you ever tried singing in a karaoke bar? What was the experience like?


Q14] Do you listen to music when writing? If so which?

No. When I write, I write.

PQ15] Have you ever gone to see a musical? What was it, provide link please.

We went to see the revived “Show Boat” on Broadway … like 15 years ago? Don’t have a link, sorry.

Q16] Do you know the lyrics to all the songs you like?

Some, not all.

Q17] When you are listening to music – are you listening just to the music itself or the lyrics too?

Both. Also, it depends on whether or not there ARE any lyrics. A lot of music is just music. No lyrics.

Q18] Do you listen to music when you go cycling/jogging or when you’re working out at the gym? [or any other physical activity]

We used to listen while driving, but when we sold our car, it took away the CD player. Maybe I’ll learn to like the radio.

Q19] Many operas are in French, Italian or German. If you listen to opera, do you understand the libretto (text) or are you happy to get the gist (main idea)?

I really hate opera, especially soprano solos. I like operettas, however. Gilbert & Sullivan does it for me.

PQ20] Are you deleting any questions, if so which ones?


Q21] Do you enjoy watching music videos? What sort of music videos do you enjoy most?

Very occasionally and it depends on my mood. Last time it was an old Dolly Parton show from way back, also starring a young Linda Ronstadt.